opening

(image courtesy Pavel Horák)

I’m finished. I just completed my final edit of my novel.

Is it done? Who knows. All I can say is that it’s as done as I can do.

When people make movies, build buildings, birth babies, or cook for crowds, they have help, they communicate with others during the process. But I wrote this thing alone, without a writing group or an editor or a teacher or a mentor to guide me. For years, I have had no idea where I am or what the hell I’m doing. I feel like a part of my brain has been in solitary confinement for far too long. I have squandered my last introverted tendency and sucked every last drop of self confidence. If this thing has any merit, someone else will have to step in now to take it to the next level.

Last time I tried to find an agent, the process was agonizing and intensely personal but this time, I feel oddly blasé. I’m ready to toss this pile of paper in the recycling bin so there’s room for something else in my life. A bonfire might be fun. It’s not unlike how I’m feeling about the election: whatever happens, at least it will be over. Instead of hope or anxiety, I feel a huge relief.

Or I will after I do this:

1. Go to AgentQuery.com to do a full search.
2. Hover over “offbeat/quirky” and “chick-lit” but check the boxes “commercial fiction” and “literary fiction” (even though I’m not completely sure my novel falls into any of these categories) and say yes to “accepts email submissions” and “seeking new clients.”
3. Press enter. Voila. 211 names. 211!
4. Collect all the dice from the board games on the shelf. Roll and add: 29.
5. Send letters of inquiry to 29 of these people.  Choose the ones with names I like.

And then I can breathe deeply and move on.

(I feel lighter already. My cat, who was sleeping a moment ago, just lifted her head to look at me. A train whistles in the distance, a longing low that reminds me of the world outside. I lean back in my chair and look up at the skylight and suddenly, it feels like more than a window: a passage, an opening, an eye. My focus struggles to catch the clouds. It’s so big out there and so flat, a gray ocean churning over my head with bodies of bright blue that seethe to the surface like giant fishes. The house groans a little, as if the ground is shifting. Somewhere out there, the crows are calling.)

What are you looking forward to? What’s next for you?

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About Anna Fonté

Girl in the Hat, aka Anna Fonté, is an author who writes about invisibility, outsider status, everyday monsters, and her attempts to befriend the neighborhood crows. The things she writes want you to look at them.

42 comments

  1. Congratulations on your accomplishment. I’m wrestling with an unwieldy novel-type beast of a manuscript of my own right now; it’s gratifying to see you finish yours.

  2. Good luck with the queries!!! My fingers are crossed for you.
    I’ll be starting that lovely process again soon… I prefer to call it “soliciting rejection letters,” but that’s because I have a bad attitude ;-).
    Congratulations on finishing your book!

    • Yes! Soliciting rejection letters. Asking for it. Fooling myself. Playing victim. Wearing a “kick me” sign. Rolling over and exposing the tender bits. (I have had all these thoughts before but this time, I am strangely numb.)

      • That’s the spirit! Convince the universe that you don’t care either way! Trick it into letting you succeed! Seriously, though, agents would be crazy not to want you. I predict good things! (and… I sound like a fortune cookie tonight.)

  3. That seems like a very tough racket! Since I don’t do art fairs, I don’t know who, or how many, are rejecting my work. I did get a mention in the paper this week though. It feels like some small sort of validation.

    http://destructivetesting.wordpress.com/2012/10/29/upcycling-article-milwaukee-journal-mike-smith

    Mike

  4. Congratulations! A few unsolicited suggestions before you begin querying:
    1) Make sure your query letter is FABULOUS.
    2) Target agents who will accept a sample of your work with your query (the first ten pages, or better yet, the first 50).
    3) Plan on querying more than 29 agents!

    Good luck to you. xo

    • The query is as fabulous as the novel is. Hahahaha! Get it? Get it? *wink*
      Thank you for that sample idea. I think you must be right about that. I mean, I am looking for a real person who is potentially interested, right? So your suggestion makes complete sense.
      And I have to admit, I did send this thing out about two years ago. Prematurely, although I didn’t think so at the time. (Solitary confinement often leads to hallucinations and other psychotic breaks.) (Have completely revamped it since then.) So some of these 211 names look familiar. I’ll narrow my search to those who didn’t see the old one.

  5. Anna! Congrats! I just love love love your writing. Here again, you have moved me. I love your description of relief at the end. Geronimoooooooooooooo! May the wind carry you gently but surely on this journey. And may it be a fruitful one…

    • Honestly, I have my sights fixed on the ending point, which is sending that last query, that I can’t see beyond. By focusing there, I see the end. I think it’s healthier this way. It feels better than last time, at least.

  6. You queried? Wow. That was the hardest step for me. I was so hurt at first. Then I got the form rejection with all the errors in it. A year after Someone said it just didn’t’t sound very interesting, an agency I queried announced the release of a cute book about potatoes. Please let us (me) know what happens next! I am sure you have what it takes.

    • Oh Virginia, my last novel was a complete devastation. Maybe I’ve grown callous, but I don’t think so. I think I just know I can’t do any more. I will certainly let you all know. Maybe we can make a game of it.

  7. Wow! Congratulations!!! I’m so happy for you, it’s a huge achievement and may I say you were not all that angsty about it. Now take a deep breath and send it OUT.

    (You might want to put Scott Hoffman on your list, from Folio. Your book sounds like something he’d be interested in.)
    XO

  8. CONGRATS!!!
    i’m in aww of anyone who has FINISHED. Good luck with the querying and everything afterward–including your next novel.

  9. Somewhere out there, the crows are calling.

    My God, your brain is a candle. Lighting up the world from both ends, and the middle.

    Good for you.

  10. TheOthers1

    Woot on finishing! Go you. I hope this next part is smooth and easy for you. 🙂

  11. Have a good old celebration for finishing! You deserve it. And good luck with the next stage in the process.

  12. Good for you, Anna. I wish you the best of luck. I wish I could say that a book of mine was finished. I long for that day. And in answer to your questions: once I’ve actually finished one, I plan to put it up for sale myself because I can’t take anymore intermediate rejection. Especially the kind that comes without the courtesy of a rejection letter. That hurt so bad, it felt like a sign. I don’t think I have the guts to query anyone again except the reading public. Somehow that doesn’t scare me as much.

    • Re, all I can say is that I’ve been rejected so many times, it’s gotten easier. I expect it. I have an enormous pile of rejection letters saved up. These days, you’re lucky if you get a one-line email. I am planning other projects to keep my imagination occupied.

  13. I am so envious (but over the moon for you), I am still on my first and my dream is to be published one day … in a few years hopefully

  14. Congratulations and best of luck. I used all my rejection letters to wallpaper the house; my “Wall of Shame.”
    But what the hell – – – I know they were all trying to help – – – some rejections were not so hot – – – well – – – most of them were wrong about me – – – now that I think about it every last one of the rejections were stupid – – – dirty #*&^%#*^*^%s – – – some of the ((%$#@s didn’t even answer. They all suxk!

  15. Congratulations Anna! Enjoy your moment – smell the roses- say whooppeee! I’ll look forward to the publication. Carla

  16. Congratulations, Anna! That’s wonderful news. You better get it published, as I’d love to read it. Have you considered going to an agent’s conference? They’re pricey, but they’re a good way to get face time with agents, and to practice putting together a really good pitch. I’ve met a number of agents that way, but uh…I need to finish my book. 🙂 It must feel so amazing to have finished this, so congrats all around!

    • I promised myself (and my husband) I would not spend one more penny on this publishing fantasy. If the writing doesn’t do it, then that’s that. Although if I won the lottery tomorrow, I’d probably want an MFA.

      • Much to say on that (both good and bad), too, if you ever decide to go that route. Low-res programs are always an option, too, though I’m not sure if they’re less of an expense.

        Anyway, I feel you. Maybe I’m too much of an idealist, but I do believe that good work will find an audience, no matter what.

  17. That’s terrific, Anna. Good wishes for your words!

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